Yes, O’ Hockey Gods, gurus, patrons and bloggers, there is the argument that supercedes all others – that at the end of the day, what matters most is winning games. And winning, and only winning, is what will ultimately fill the arena in Nassau County on a nightly basis.


But the Islanders are certainly a unique case, that we can all agree on. So here’s what I’m wondering, and I’d like to hear from as many of you as possible.


After all the Islanders and their fans have been through and are currently going through, could the franchise and its followers endure this series of events in 2009-10?


  • Passing on John Tavares with the first overall pick


  • Drafting Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene, whether it’s at 1 or a trade to 2 or 3


  • Not qualifying for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, perhaps not coming close


  • Hedman having a real nice 10-25-35, plus-10 season for the Islanders. Or Duchene either playing one more year of junior or producing in the NHL a half-step above Josh Bailey (7-18-25 as a rookie this year)


  • Watching Tavares – predicted by even his strongest critics to be a 40-50 goal scorer in the NHL – post stats for another team a little above Steven Stamkos (23-23-46 with Tampa Bay this year) and be heralded as the league’s next offensive star.


This series of events is not the result of an active imagination. It could quite easily happen. Short of a trio of impact free agent signings and a blockbuster trade where they benefit by providing a team major cap relief, the Islanders are far from a sure-shot playoff team next season. Hedman and Duchene could have good seasons and post the stats projected. Tavares should at least match the goal and assist totals of Stamkos, last June’s first overall pick.


There’s no need, really, to get into the health of Rick DiPietro or other unpredictable factors. We also don’t need to re-visit the various scouting service reports on Tavares, Hedman and Duchene.


Do I think the Islanders could survive the chain of events? The easy answer is Fisherman jersey…Gang of Four, Chain Gang of Two…Turgeon-Palffy-Luongo trades…Zach Parise…John Spano…Kate Murray and the Lighthouse Project (hey, it’s the Islanders’ version of “We Didn’t Start The Fire”!)


Or maybe the answer is the Islanders cannot afford to pass up the opportunity to have Hedman as a franchise defenseman, or trade down to acquire another good player and draft Duchene at 3. I want to know what you think.


Look at the bullet points. Ask yourself: if the Islanders pass on Tavares, could this series of events unfold? Then ask yourself how you’d feel if it all really happened.


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